city landscape with smoke

Our November issue is now live!

The effects of wildfires on urban air quality (pictured) can have social consequences. Wen and Burke find that across the United States they worsen students' learning outcomes.

Announcements

  • As a result of the significant disruption that is being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic we are aware that many researchers will have difficulty in meeting the timelines associated with our peer review process during normal times. Please do let us know if you need additional time. Our systems will continue to remind you of the original timelines but we intend to be highly flexible at this time.

  • Batteries are crucial to move towards a more sustainable energy supply. This Focus highlights recent advances on battery technology research that has embedded sustainability principles in different components and at different life cycle stages.

Nature Sustainability is a Transformative Journal; authors can publish using the traditional publishing route OR via immediate gold Open Access.

Our Open Access option complies with funder and institutional requirements.

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  • Transitioning the global energy system to renewables will likely expand energy transition minerals and metals (ETMs) projects to sensitive territories. Across 5,097 projects globally, greater than half of the ETM resource base appears to be located on or near the lands of Indigenous and peasant peoples whose rights to consultation are embedded in United Nations declarations.

    • John R. Owen
    • Deanna Kemp
    • Éléonore Lèbre
    Analysis Open Access
  • Progress towards global targets for clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is advanced through evidence-informed decision-making. This study finds that the data from the only global school WASH database published by the Joint Monitoring Programme are amenable to statistical analysis but cannot yet support rigorous quantitative research.

    • Leigh C. Hamlet
    • Jessica Kaminsky
    Analysis
  • Self-governing institutions can allow communities, via cooperation, to avoid overuse of common-pool resources. Experiments performed through an online game platform show that when users share common goals, they self-organize in cooperative behaviour, leading to long-term resource sustainability.

    • Chengyi Tu
    • Paolo D’Odorico
    • Samir Suweis
    Article
  • Thermoelectric materials could reduce energy losses by converting waste heat from various processes into electricity. To cater to the needs of wearable devices, the authors design Bi2Te3-based thin films that show both excellent thermoelectric performance and long-sought flexibility.

    • Zhuang-Hao Zheng
    • Xiao-Lei Shi
    • Zhi-Gang Chen
    Article
  • Aviation is a major contributor to climate change. This study assesses the potential of bioenergy crops planted in the US Midwest to meet projected US jet-fuel demand in 2040, finding that planting roughly 23.2 million hectares of marginal land with miscanthus would meet this need.

    • Nazli Z. Uludere Aragon
    • Nathan C. Parker
    • Matei Georgescu
    Article
    • Huge volumes of a diverse range of minerals are required to shift the world to renewable energy. An analysis now shows that many of these are being sourced from the lands of vulnerable people.

      • Stephen T. Garnett
      • Kerstin K. Zander
      News & Views
    • Annual grains, domesticated from wild species, have dominated agriculture since the Neolithic. A new study reports how turning to high-yield perennial rice crops could maintain key ecosystem functions while supporting livelihoods.

      • Jerry Glover
      News & Views
    • A lack of regional and international collective action is the greatest barrier to achieving global environmental sustainability. Game theoretic experiments suggest that introducing shared goals could offer a path forward.

      • Andrew R. Tilman
      News & Views
    • Although urgently needed for the decarbonization of our economies, the mining of rare earth elements has a poor environmental record. The use of electrokinetics promises a more efficient extraction while substantially reducing environmental impacts.

      • Henning Prommer
      News & Views
    • The successful breeding and cultivation of perennial rice enables up to eight grain harvests from a single planting, with reduced labour input, improved soil health and potential to affect farming systems in frost-free environments between 40° N and 40° S. Perennial rice reconciles food production with environmental security in a changing climate.

      Research Briefing
  • Restoring the connection between people and the rest of nature hinges on whole-system science, actions and negotiations.

    Editorial
  • Julie Zimmerman takes a complete systems-thinking approach towards lowering consumption of non-renewable resources and the technological approaches to get there. As professor of chemical and environmental engineering, environment, and epidemiology at Yale University, she is taking green chemistry to new levels.

    • Lisa Palmer
    Q&A
  • Our planet is rapidly urbanizing. Research has recognized the complexity of city-driven dynamics, but our political realities have yet to catch up. A new narrative of sustainable urban development must become central to global policymaking to help humanity respond to the most pressing social and environmental challenges.

    • Michael Keith
    • Eugenie Birch
    • Martin van der Pütten
    Comment
  • As the pace of global change quickens, traditional means of data collection may fall short in monitoring its impacts. To ensure a sustainable future, we need all hands on deck in observing our changing planet.

    Editorial
  • Citizen science efforts are instrumental in monitoring our progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Dilek Fraisl, Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and Omar Seidu, Director of Social and Demographic Statistics and the SDGs Coordinator at the Ghana Statistical Service, discuss how Ghana successfully integrated citizen science data into its official monitoring of marine plastic debris.

    • Stephanie M. Olen
    Q&A
  • Margot Wallström, former European Commissioner for the Environment and former Foreign Secretary of Sweden, led an international expert panel at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute to study the intertwined risks of global environmental crises and conflict.

    • Lisa Palmer
    Q&A